Kiwi Polemicist

April 12, 2009

• 2,000 Poles in prison for riding a bicycle whilst drunk

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The BBC is reporting that 2,000 Poles are in prison for riding a bicycle whilst drunk, which is truly insane. The average sentence is 11.5 months.

The usual rationale for punishing people who drink and drive is that they may harm others, and in an earlier post I showed the folly of this argument. This argument really falls over when applied to drunk cyclists: alcohol is a sedative, and most drunks on bicycles ride in a slow and wobbly manner, causing no more risk than a sober and unskilled rider.

Even if you believe that drink-driving should be punishable there’s also an issue of proportionality of punishment: giving a drunken cyclist the same punishment as a drunken person driving a ton or more of vehicle is clearly disproportionate.

As the judge quoted in the article points out, this policy causes financial hardship for families. If Polish prisons are like ours the drunks will also be learning criminal skills from fellow inmates.

What alcohol-addled lawmaker dreamed this up?

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